I like to think that I can find new learning experiences every day. Every activity from the mundane sweeping of the floor to the more exciting ventures of cobbling together a wedding registry offers the chance of discovery if you’re paying enough attention. For example, this week I have learned the following:
1. Having sex on a your brand new, high end comfy sack chair may seem like a good, rather whimsically naughty activity. Coy, suggestive eyes and a smack on the bum may encourage such things. It is dear readers, not so fun. It's similar to doing ballet on a sinking ship in a hurricane; stupid, clumsy, and more awkward than you might expect it to be.
2. Another note on said comfy sack. I love otherwise un-stainable, svelte, chocolate brown microsuede it comes in. But I swear to God if Fiance spills his coffee on it I will literally die.
3. Scratch that. Fiance will be killed.
4. Puppies like to nap in dirt. I’m not sure why, but they do. Furthermore, they will sniff it out whenever possible as said dirt is the most comfortable thing ever. You can fence off every bit of vegetable garden you have and seed as much grass as you want. A puppy will somehow find that one tiny, two square inches of mud and contort their body in such a way that it all fits in that tiny square ensuring that they emerge caked in crud. Said puppy will then whine when you have to give him yet another bath. Eventually, you hope, the puppy will make the connection between the two.
5. That new screen door pops right out with a touch. Eat Beast only needs to see you do this once to learn that the road to freedom to just that easy. Yet, strangely enough, after 8 years he still refuses to learn to sit. This brings me to lesson number 6.
6. Eat Beast will always be an obstinate asshole. Forever. The end.
7. During the move I lost my sugar/deep fry thermometer. It’s not something I use often, but like to have. The other night I was bound to deep fry and was rather worried about not having a thermometer nearby as after enough kitchen and house fires I have as much experience to survive another one as I desire to have a police officer billy club my kneecaps.
A quick bit of research and I learned a nifty trick. Most frying occurs at 350F, the magic cooking number. Apparently, if you don’t have a thermometer you can toss a 1-inch cube of bread into your oil. If it turns dark golden brown in 60 seconds, then your oil is 350F.
I tried it out with a few bread cubes. The first two cooked slowly and came out soggy. The third? 60 seconds golden. My egg rolls that I wanted to fry? They were perfectly cooked.
There you have it. The bread cube test for frying.
Isn’t that fascinating?
8. I forgot how reading W.H. Auden’s poetry was akin to reading Letters to Penthouse. I also forgot how reading Adirenne Rich’s poetry can generate so much self-reflection that it leaves you emotionally hollow for a half hour. Neither of these are complaints.
9. Speaking of literature, a thought came across when I was perusing my book shelf: Wouldn’t Paris Hilton be the perfect choice to play Daisy in a modern film adaptation of The Great Gatsby? She’s trained her whole life for the role. I see an Emmy in her future should this come to pass.
10. Vodka makes for good homemade vanilla extract. Rum and Bourbon make for an awesome vanilla extract. I encourage you to test this immediately.
11. Vegan food is not always disgusting. In fact, it can be downright mind blowing when done right. The trick is not to try and hide the fact that a dish is vegan as that's where things often go awry (read: tofurky and "cheesecake").
One must embrace the ingredients they are using and let them shine. Treat the ingredients with respect as you would any dish.
Take this chocolate avocado mousse. I call it a mousse because, well, it's for sure not a guacamole and it isn't a pudding. But it is a bunch of ingredients whipped together into a creamy, smooth, sinfully as stealing rich pudding consistency. So it can be called a mousse, I feel, and not a "mousse".
Avocado's mild, buttery flavor is overwhelmed by the chocolate, which is good here. The point of the avocado is mouthfeel. Dark chocolate is the focus flavor, supported by a bit of vanilla, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder. Agave syrup - a natural sweetener - firmly declares the mixture to be a dessert. Unquestionably.
The mousse is richer than any you've had using cream. Thicker. Stronger. Intense. I encourage you to serve it with season fruit macerated in a bit of sugar (perhaps orange blossom water, as well) to cut through this mousse.
Try it. You'll learn something.
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
2 avocados, seeeded and chopped, peels discarded
1/3 cups cocoa powder
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
good pinch chipotle powder
Place all the ingredients in a mixer and puree for 3 minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust agave and spices as desired.